A majority of voters who went to the polls on May 8 in North Carolina voted for an amendment that would add a new section to the state constitution stating, in part, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” The vote pertaining to the constitutional amendment was essentially a referendum on gay marriage.
In the months and weeks leading up to the vote, many compelling arguments were put forth against this amendment’s passage. A centerpiece of the reasons given was often that the amendment was bad for business because it would be a turnoff to companies contemplating relocation here, making the state appear backward.
While this is probably true, it was not the strongest of all the arguments proffered against the amendment. The strongest argument against the amendment was that it was, well, wrong. It’s wrong to legislate discrimination against another group of people. It’s wrong at face value to deny people their rights, regardless of whether denying those rights is good for business or bad for business. What if denying people’s rights were deemed to be good for business? Would it then be OK? It seems probable that the reason a lot of the individuals and groups who spoke out against the amendment cloaked their arguments in pro-business terms was because, unfortunately, they deemed that more socially acceptable than other reasons they might have cited for being against the amendment. Still, it is admirable they spoke out against it at all.
In any case, the issue of gay marriage was something that never should have been placed on the ballot for voters in my state to consider. The rights of a minority group should not be put to a majority vote. Sometimes, as in this case, the majority can err.
Around the time of the election, I found myself wondering how I would feel if I were gay and had to watch my neighbors and co-workers heading to the polls to offer up their opinion on whether my relationship with another person was valid or not. It wouldn’t feel very good, I expect. Not very good at all.
But I think one can take some heart in the fact that history is not usually on the side of depriving people of their rights, and the error voters made will eventually be corrected.
Hope Yancey is a counselor and freelance writer living in Charlotte, North Carolina